Funding ‘moonshot’ projects among actions report asks UK government to take if life sciences industry is to shine

The UK should fund high-risk research, support companies through an investment-friendly tax environment and ensure closer collaboration between the National Health Services (NHS) and industry. These recommendations to grow the life sciences sector are made by an independent report.

In 2016, the UK’s life science sector generated £64 billion across more than 5000 companies employing almost 0.9% of all private sector employees. However, the country’s spending on life sciences research remains low compared with its competitors. In 2015, the UK spent $2.8 billion (£2.2 billion) in this area, whereas the US and Germany both spent more than $4 billion.

The report, written by University of Oxford geneticist John Bell, now collates input from industry, academia, charities and research organisations, and sets out ambitious goals for the sector. One of the report’s key recommendations is to establish an agency that supports ‘moonshot’ projects with a view to create two to three entirely new industries over the next 10 years.

Bell’s report also recommends establishing a system to allow the movement of skilled workers, set up data hubs and create supportive infrastructure, and a tax environment that will attract overseas firms. Moreover, closer collaboration between the NHS and industry will be needed to speed up clinical trials.